HR magazine tries... Testing personal creativity

Deputy editor Rachel Sharp finds out what her style of creativity is with Perspectiv’s VIEW tool

I don’t think it’s too bold a statement to say that everyone would like to be told they’re creative. Which is why when honorary senior visiting fellow at Cass Business School (currently teaching a Masters on creativity and innovation) and partner at Perspectiv, Andy Wilkins, arrives at HR magazine’s offices to brief me on my own creative prowess I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand I can’t wait to find out how I might be able to take it up a notch (imagine the heights of originality my next feature could reach…) But I’m also a little nervous. Journalism is meant to be a creative endeavour after all. Imagine my embarrassment if it transpires that I’m not.

But it turns out this is the first common misunderstanding about creativity and innovation that I, like many others before me, have fallen foul of. “People muddle up how much they’ve got with the manner in which they use it,” explains Wilkins.

Instead Perspectiv’s VIEW tool is a measurement not of how creative a person is, but their style of creativity. It assesses their style of creative behaviour, problem-solving, change management, and innovation. The idea is that it can help to understand one’s own strengths and blind spots, improve self-awareness, and leverage creativity in individual or team problem-solving tasks.

For the purpose of this piece I am quick to assert that I only want the creativity and innovation test (the problem-solving and change management test can be parked for another day). This, I learn, is my second misunderstanding. In the eyes of the VIEW tool innovation, creativity, problem-solving and change management are the “same thing, different words”. They are all what Wilkins calls “gap-closers” between where we are now and where we want to go; so to measure one is to measure them all.

My third (and thankfully final) misunderstanding is dispelled when Wilkins explains the spectrum of innovation to me. At ‘one’ stands revolutionary explorations or inventions, and at ‘five’ evolutionary developments and adaptions. “All of it is creative and innovative and neither is better than the other,” Wilkins says.

So it’s not all about revolutionary types of innovations, as we’re all biased towards assuming. Having busted the myths on creativity and innovation, it’s time to find out what my style is…

The week prior to our session I completed the VIEW assessment online, a questionnaire where I selected on a scale my preference when solving problems for a set of statements covering three areas: orientation to change, manner of processing, and ways of deciding.

The orientation to change dimension deals with the preference for responding to and managing structure, novelty and authority, with individuals falling into the explorer or the developer style. It came as little surprise that I lie towards the developer side of things. But, with a score of 87, I was actually closer to the middle line of 72 than anticipated.

Being a developer means I prefer to work in reasonably structured well-organised situations. Which, as someone who prefers a structured editorial process and feels the throes of anxiety if I don’t tick off my to-do list, seems fair.

When it comes to idea generation this means I have a tendency towards more practical and useful ideas, rather than far-out ones. My biases resurface again – I’m disheartened that I produce the unglamorous ‘useful’ ideas. But, then again, keeping up with the demands of a monthly magazine requires structure so perhaps this is a good match to my role.

For the second dimension – manner of processing – which deals with how and when I use the inner energy and resources of myself and others, I confidently predict I have an internal rather than external style. Strangely my score comes back as external, which means I work best with others and in noisy environments.

I’m not convinced by this one, being someone who needs to barricade myself in a room far away from the constant flood of phone calls and emails to get my head down and write.

But, then again, I do like to talk through ideas with others (and am very prone to FOMO [fear of missing out]) so there could be truth in it…

The third and final dimension – ways of deciding – has me as a task-style rather than a people-style person, meaning I use my head more than my heart in decision-making. (I’m reassured this translates into a preference for well-reasoned conclusions rather than ‘office sociopath’, as I’d initially panicked.)

Now we’ve identified the creative style I have, Wilkins says I know which strengths to “lean towards” to increase my creative performance and also the blind spots where I may need to adapt. He advises I try brain writing as a technique that will play to my strengths. He also suggests I use these revelations to spot when I may need to “flex my behaviour”, say when I as a developer am working in creative collaboration with an explorer.

What I can safely say following the workshop is that it doesn’t look likely I’ll be the inventor of the next World Wide Web. But continuing to turn out creatively-written articles? Done. (I hope you agree.)

Further reading

HR's role in organisational creativity and innovation